Mounted knights ride through Mechelen’s Grote Markt in a colorful procession. It is 1491, and a special chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece has descended on the city on the Dyle. A little golden ram’s fleece glitters on a neck chain in the spring light. The symbol of a knightly order that captures the imagination to this day. A symbol of not just power, but elitism, religion and political allegiance.
The exhibition entitled Knights of the Golden Fleece: a Brilliant Myth Unraveled allows you to relive the gathering of the knights in 1491, one of the biggest and most significant festivities in the history of Mechelen. Your introduction to the famous Burgundian knighthood is made through a unique set of 15th-century coats of arms, created especially for the Mechelen convocation. This is the first time that the 29 coats of arms have been visible at such close quarters since their restoration.
The exhibition disentangles the political intrigues and plotting behind one of Europe’s earliest political alliances – described by some as the forerunner to the European Union. Does the EU wish to align itself here with the grand tradition of the Burgundian Dukes? And while the Order may be a forerunner of the European Union, would we necessarily want it as our model for the future?
Knights of the Golden Fleece: a Brilliant Myth Unraveled benefits from the Royal Protection of His Majesty the King. The exhibition was created in association with the city of Mechelen, the province of Antwerp, Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral, the Périer-D’Ieteren Foundation and the media partners Knack, De Standaard and Klara. The exhibition marks the occasion of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union (January to June 2024) and is part of the Construct Europe 2024 city festival program.
The exhibition is curated by Hannah Iterbeke and Magali Elali.